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Isiah Pacheco on AFC Championship game: ‘I’ve been waiting on this moment my whole life’

The rookie running back spoke to the media ahead of his second playoff game.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has the same message for all of his rookies.

"Just be you and go play," says Reid. "Learn the game plan, and don't be anything more or anything less. Just go play."

It's good advice.

For the Chiefs' youngest players, this week is the culmination of a lifetime of sacrifice and dedication to the game. It's payment for all the early mornings and late nights spent in the weight room and watching film. Most of all, it's a chance to be a part of something special: a Super Bowl run.

This isn't lost on starting running back Isiah Pacheco.

"I've been waiting on this moment my whole life," said Pacheco, echoing his head coach's words. "So for me to continue to be myself and go out there and follow our leaders and take it play by play and let the game come to me."

When Pacheco was asked which leaders on the Chiefs he was referring to, he said that he looks up to the guys who have played in big games before.

"It's Jerick [McKinnon], Travis [Kelce] and Pat [Mahomes], and the whole offensive line," said Pacheco. "The guys who have been here before me and they've been in this situation; those are the guys that I look up to and learn from — learning from them has helped me overcome the game by playing so fast... For me to just continue to be patient and learn from my mistakes... it's important for me to take those mistakes and grow from them."

For first-year players like Pacheco, the playoffs mark the graduation from their rookie year — and there are no more excuses for not doing your job.

"Like (special teams) coach [Dave] Toub said, we are not rookies at point — now [that] the season is kind of over with. So for me I kind of carry that mentality that you know I'm not a rookie anymore, so you just continue to follow the leaders and do my role and play my part so we can execute."

One veteran that the Chiefs will be leaning on down the stretch is JuJu Smith-Schuster— and the wide receiver was complimentary of Pacheco on Wednesday, saying that last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars when things were uncertain, and Chad Henne was in the game due to Patrick Mahomes suffering a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter, the Chiefs were able to move the ball on the ground.

"We definitely got to run the ball— that's definitely huge for us," said Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster went on to say that their goal on offense last week was to be able to use the run to set the shot plays downfield.

"To be able to get the run game going just so we could throw the ball deep," he said. "And like I said, it just goes hand in hand when you run the ball and pass the ball."

With Mahomes possibly being limited due to his injury, Pacheco was asked if he thought there would be a greater emphasis placed on the running game this week.

"It doesn't matter what we call, who's the quarterback, when we play, who we play — we're ready to go out there and execute."

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